Undergraduate Major in Social Sciences

Social sciences majors examine humankind—its basic nature and evolution around the world and over time, its social structures and issues, and its politics and political institutions. Through interdisciplinary study that employs a full range of the research methods and comparative perspectives in the social sciences, students gain essential skills in critical reasoning and analysis, creative problem solving, writing, and social awareness.

In the social sciences major, students will explore related disciplines—anthropology, political science, psychology, and sociology—to develop analytical, interpretive, communication, and research skills that can be applied to complex problems and issues. 



About Social Sciences

Social Sciences Major Goals and Curriculum

Program Goals

Graduates will be prepared to:

  • Explain how human identity is linked to social constructs of gender, race, class and culture
  • Apply the insights of various social science disciplines to analyze behavior and beliefs, both of individuals and groups
  • Analyze how various disciplines in the social sciences approach social problems and explain the diverse configurations of human society
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyze problems and illuminate issues
  • Apply critical and creative thinking, information literacy, and interdisciplinary perspectives to analyze and evaluate proposed solutions for practical problems in the social sciences


In curriculum taught by Northwestern University faculty, social sciences disciplines are equally represented in the core courses, while research and methods courses foster engagement with key texts, scholarly sources, and the gathering and analysis of evidence. Advanced elective courses offer the opportunity to emphasize certain academic subjects and engage in exploring others including African American studies, economics, history, and international studies.

Choose from two degree programs for the social sciences major. The bachelor's degree requirements are 45 units total and include distribution, writing, and elective courses, and the major requirements. 

Social Sciences major requirements: 

4 core courses
  • Anthropology – one of the following: ANTHRO 211 Culture and Society; ANTHRO 213 Human Origins; ANTHRO 214 Archaeology: Unearthing History; ANTHRO 215 The Study of Culture through Language
  • Political Science – one of the following: POLI SCI 201 Introduction to Political Theory; POLI SCI 220 American Government and Politics; POLI SCI 230 Introduction to Law in the Political Arena; POLI SCI 240 Introduction to International Relations; POLI SCI 250 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • Psychology – PSYCH 110 Introduction to Psychology
  • Sociology – one 100- or 200-level Sociology course (excluding SOCIOL 226)
3 research/methods courses 
  • STAT 202 Introduction to Statistics and Data Science or PSYCH 201 Statistical Methods in Psychology
  • ANTHRO 389 Ethnographic Methods and Analysis or POLI SCI 210 Introduction to Empirical Methods in Political Science or SOCIOL 226 Sociological Analysis
  • Research seminar – one of the following: ANTHRO 398 Capstone Seminar; POLI SCI 395 Political Research Seminar; SOCIOL 329 Field Research and Methods; SOCIOL 398 Senior Research Seminar
5 electives
  • five 300-level courses in anthropology, political science, psychology or sociology. Courses must be selected from at least two subjects. Up to two 200-level courses may be included with academic adviser approval. An additional research seminar may be counted as an elective.

Undergraduate Social Sciences Courses

Explore Undergraduate Social Sciences Courses for descriptions, locations, and schedules. Classes are held on Northwestern's Evanston or downtown Chicago campuses, and meet once weekly in the evening, on Saturdays, and online.

Major in Social Sciences Admission and Transfer Policy

Application to Northwestern University School of Professional Studies bachelor's degree programs is completed online. Once admitted, many students create a shorter path to degree completion by applying transfer credit. View detailed application instructions and requirements and transfer credit policies on the Admission & Transfer Policy page. 

Social Sciences Tuition and Financial Aid

The School of Professional Studies offers competitive tuition rates for undergraduate majors. The Tuition & Financial Aid page lists current per-course tuition rates in addition to financial aid information and scholarship opportunities.

Registration for Social Sciences Majors

Registration for courses opens 8 to 10 weeks before each quarter and is accessed CAESAR,  Northwestern's online student records system. View course registration timelines and instructions on the Registration Information page.

Career Options for Social Sciences Majors

Students who study the social sciences emerge with a robust foundation of analytical, research, writing, and argumentation skills, and the ability to apply problem solving and critical thinking to current and future performance in a variety of disciplines and professional settings. For details see the Social Sciences Career Options page.

Find out more about the Major in Social Sciences

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